Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

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shider
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Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by shider » Wed May 16, 2018 3:30 am

Hi fellow trombonists!

i'm teaching my first student since fall last year. He's still a little short but is quite eager and learning fast.

Now my question is the following:
Is there a time/point when you start the process of leading a pupil to develop his own sound concept, or do you start as early as possible?
Can it harm the development of fundementals or is it in each and every way benefitial?
Going along Arnold Jacobs' idea of "sound and wind" i would think it could only benefit him having an idea of the sound he is aiming for and that it would further his progress.

Speaking from my own time as a student (i still consider myself as one at only 24 years) with a teacher i had for far too long no idea of how i wanted to sound. My first teacher (a trumpet player) didn't encourage me to listen to trombonists or any music at all and hearing younger students who are still with him i get the feeling they try to adapt the trumpets sound to the trombone and i think they all sound very tight and nasal...

After i started to listen to a lot of Music (after changing the teacher to a trombonist) i noticed how my playing abilities grew alongside my sound concept, so i'm thinking about leading him on this path as early as possible. Maybe by giving him a song to listen to per week and talking about it the following week?

I would love to get some insight on this topic from you! :???:
thanks a lot!

Greetings from Germany!
cozzagiorgi
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by cozzagiorgi » Wed May 16, 2018 6:04 am

I dont think you can start this process to early.

I played for quite a few years before hearing a top notch player. And I then realized my sound concepts where much to "band" oriented.

This happened well 15 or 20 years ago and I still think it hinders me sometimes.

Showing a young student what is actually possible is always a great way to teach. They have to know what to listen for and, more importantly, what they can imitate.
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StevenC
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by StevenC » Wed May 16, 2018 8:48 am

Expose your student to a variety of good trombone players (including yourself). This will help the student develop a sound concept. I know it gave my daughter a running start, way back when she started.

If you want to do more explicit activities, play some trombone music for your student and have the student describe the sound. The description does not need to use musical terms. It could use colors or flavors.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Neo Bri » Wed May 16, 2018 8:54 am

I believe there can be a "too early." Mostly that is when the sound trumps the technique. Embouchure form and function has to happen first, otherwise... you could just be "polishing a turd."

If embouchure and other technique is strong and working correctly, then sound concept begins to be very important.

The reason I say this is because I've seen too many times players with terrible fundamentals that eventually develop a good sound. The problem then is the whole house needs to be burned down when they run out of chops, and rebuilt correctly later.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by VJOFan » Wed May 16, 2018 12:06 pm

My first teacher (I was 11 years old or so) was an Eastman grad bass trombonist. Trying to make my Conn Director sound like his massive, symphonic, bass trombone sound was my concept maker.

I mention this as a way to say that you may not need to discuss sound concept per se but rather, as hinted above a few times, model great sound and let the student absorb that sound.

As time goes on multiple models and the differences between them can be utilized to facilitate style and expression.

An aside is a personal moment when I realized how important models were after almost 40 years of playing. I had a solo in a chart in a big band that I could never figure out how to make work. A more experienced gentleman joined the group and I passed the part to him. He played mostly trad jazz. He played the solo once and it all made sense. When he later moved on (to travel with his girl!) I got the solo back and could make it wail!

Model, model , model. No Amount of verbiage can do what a live sound can do.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Kbiggs » Wed May 16, 2018 9:27 pm

In a word, no.

My view: Initially, provide good models to the student, as said above. Play well for your student, and encourage them to listen to trombonists who have sounds that are in the “normal” range for that kind of instrument (whatever that means... ducks and runs for cover...). Maybe even a sampler CD or playlist with a selection of trombonists whose tone you “approve” of. De gustibus non disputandum est.

For beginning students, I think sound should be noted and occasionally guided, but the focus is really on making the notes sound, time, rhythm, range, slurs, etc. In other words, a part of the diet. Later on, when the student has some fundamentals more in control—improved consistency in production, time, rhythm, reading, etc.—then placing a little more emphasis on producing a “pleasing” tone.

Once they can hear consistency in the “grosser” aspects of their playing, then they will have the ability to refine the subtler portions.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by boneagain » Thu May 17, 2018 5:34 am

Neo Bri wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 8:54 am
I believe there can be a "too early." Mostly that is when the sound trumps the technique. Embouchure form and function has to happen first, otherwise... you could just be "polishing a turd."

If embouchure and other technique is strong and working correctly, then sound concept begins to be very important.

The reason I say this is because I've seen too many times players with terrible fundamentals that eventually develop a good sound. The problem then is the whole house needs to be burned down when they run out of chops, and rebuilt correctly later.
Interesting comments, and I've been mulling over them since you posted.

I think there is a fine, but important, distinction here: characteristic sound versus intentionally customized sound. I would classify characteristic sound as the horn equivalent of "full voice" singing. Customized sound would include not only colorations of full voice, but "stylings" including such nuances as breathy pop styles.

I think that introduction to and insistence on characteristic sound must come before the first note. And I think I agree that customized sound MUST come later, perhaps MUCH later.

The situation that kept coming back to me as I mulled this over was the preponderance of laryngitis and even nodes on vocal chords in pre-amplification high school musicals. Teenagers with little or no formal training to help them understand the basics of protecting their singing apparatus would strive to reproduce the sound quality, and quantity, of Broadway and opera stars in a spate of rehearsals culminating in a few nights of REALLY belting it out. I recall a number of these stars having to UNlearn gobs of technique as college freshmen. And I recall a number that scarred their singing ability for life.

We have the physical equipment we are born with and the horn we get to play. From listening to a number of posts on TTF it is clear that, once fundamentals are set, we ending sounding like ourselves, no matter what we TRY to sound like. The most secure path to finding out what we sound like is to listen to characteristic sound first ("model" as so well put in other posts) then sing to make sure we understand the musical idea, then work within our current physical limitations to replicate what we sing using a characteristic sound.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by imsevimse » Thu May 17, 2018 5:54 am

Neo Bri wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 8:54 am
I believe there can be a "too early." Mostly that is when the sound trumps the technique. Embouchure form and function has to happen first, otherwise... you could just be "polishing a turd."

If embouchure and other technique is strong and working correctly, then sound concept begins to be very important.

The reason I say this is because I've seen too many times players with terrible fundamentals that eventually develop a good sound. The problem then is the whole house needs to be burned down when they run out of chops, and rebuilt correctly later.
Good points! Yes and No ;-)

Yes, because I believe there could be a problem for students who do not want to do changes in one's technique if it effects their tone negative. I do believe some changes like that to be necessary for example if you're technique demands a complete different setup. I myself had to do a complete change at one time and the immediate result was I lost all of my playing including sound. I could barely play anything.

No, because if you have a good sound concept early from a raw model then you will probably do better than without. I had not heard as good live trombone sound until I was fourteen. I think I suffered from that in my early years and that could maybe be the course of the bad technique I developed that I later had to change.

/Tom
Last edited by imsevimse on Thu May 17, 2018 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by ghmerrill » Thu May 17, 2018 7:50 am

The original posting put the question in terms of the student developing "his own sound concept". Later ones have shifted at least in part to talking about the importance of developing a "good sound concept". Surely, it is never too early to work on developing a good sound concept. But if developing your "own" sound concept is oriented to developing something like a personally distinctive sound (in accord with some "concept" you have of this), then there is much danger in going in that direction too early. I'm not sure this is what the OP was suggesting -- and quite possibly not, but ...

This is just another way of putting the point (and distinction) made by boneagain. And it's a critical point in understanding pedogogy in general. We have at least one generation of students, many of whom can't write a coherent sentence or paragraph to save their lives -- in large part because they've been encouraged from the earliest grades to focus on "expressing" themselves and finding "their own voices". You just don't get to the point of developing a good expression or voice if you begin focusing on that before you have mastered the recognized fundamentals to some significant degree.

The great artists (Picasso is a good example) changed the world of art. What many people ignore is the years/decades of effort they spent in learning the basic concepts, tools, and techniques of their trade before making those original and distinctive contributions. And how all that learning and effort informed and contributed to their own distinctive talents and capabilities. You don't want to poison that well by moving too quickly.
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shider
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by shider » Thu May 17, 2018 9:05 am

First of all, thank you all so much for your input! That was some really interesting reading :D
ghmerrill wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 7:50 am
The original posting put the question in terms of the student developing "his own sound concept". Later ones have shifted at least in part to talking about the importance of developing a "good sound concept". Surely, it is never too early to work on developing a good sound concept. But if developing your "own" sound concept is oriented to developing something like a personally distinctive sound (in accord with some "concept" you have of this), then there is much danger in going in that direction too early. I'm not sure this is what the OP was suggesting -- and quite possibly not, but ...
Well.. english is my second language, so i was expecting to have some miscommunication :shuffle:
I don't intend to lead him to develop his own concept of sound. My thoughts were more in the direction of pointing him towards beeing able to recognise what a good sound is and what isn't.
boneagain wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 5:34 am
I think there is a fine, but important, distinction here: characteristic sound versus intentionally customized sound. I would classify characteristic sound as the horn equivalent of "full voice" singing
That describes it perfectly!

And of course i see the importance of having a solid foundation (as in building a house) before putting a beautiful sound(/roof) on there to top it off. If that is neglected i can see the whole thing starting to crumble when the foundation can't support the weight of it all. (i hope this metaphor is somewhat understandable)
It's pretty much alongside what Neo Bri described by "polishing a turd". Like a model home; looks pretty but the illusion falls apart fast if one takes a closer look.

VJOFan wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:06 pm
My first teacher (I was 11 years old or so) was an Eastman grad bass trombonist. Trying to make my Conn Director sound like his massive, symphonic, bass trombone sound was my concept maker.
Very much the same with me and my student (although i'm only a motivated amateur). I mainly play my Basstrombone (260mm/10.2in Bell) in lessons with him and he plays a smallbore Jupiter (lent from our community band and it might even be the same one on which i started a few years ago :biggrin: ) I'm really amazed what amount of sound he gets out of it already! :lol:

So in summary i shall strive to make my sound as admirable as possible to get him (unconsciously) trying to mimic me (while honing in the fundamentals) and if he is ready in terms of having solid fundamentals i will point him towards the great trombonists out there and let him explore what greatness can be heard :-o

Thanks you for your insight! :good:
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by BaritoneJack » Wed May 30, 2018 4:33 pm

Is there a 'too early'? I'm bearing in mind the OP's point - that he was thinking in terms of a personal sound (and not so much a 'good' sound.

I'm not a teacher, and - as my username suggests - I play baritone horn, not trombone; this is totally a personal point of view, and I'm throwing it into the ring as no more than that.

My initial contact with brass bands was when I was a small boy in the East End of London. Just up the road was a Salvation Army Citadel, and on Sunday mornings their band used to come and play round the street where I lived. We're talking over 60 years ago, mind, yet the sound of their band is still crystal clear in my memory. My next contact with brass was marching to military bands in the late 60s, when I was in the RAF - and I didn't think much of them at all! I wasn't struck on any of the woodwinds (or saxophones), thinking them completely out of place in a military band, and would gladly have made a bonfire out of those horrible, screechy piccolos!

I didn't start playing brass until I was 68, but, right from the off, I knew exactly what sort of sound I wanted to make - and that was before I had even made my first buzz. I know this man, Bert Sullivan, is playing a euphonium in this piece ('Endearing Young Charms'), not a baritone horn - but just listen to his articulation! None of those notes are tongued at all, but you can hear every one of them distinctly:

Bert Sullivan playing with the Great Universal Stores Band, in 1960.


So I've been told, back then the bore sizes of all brass instruments were significantly smaller than those on current models - and can't you hear it? Watch the video through, and listen to the sound of the whole band - that's exactly what my local Salvation Army Band sounded like when I was still in short trousers, and I knew that was exactly what I wanted to sound like, even before I started.

In total contrast, this piece ('Carnival of Venice') was recorded by Bob Childs 25 years later. Some people like it - I find the whole sound fluffy, woolly and blurred, and to me the sound is totally wrong for the piece he's playing. There are some pieces of music which really call for a smooth, flowing sound, and for that, you can't beat a euph - after all, that's what euphs are made for! But not this one:



And, to top it off, listen to 'Endearing Young Charms' played by David Childs, in 2012.


Listen to that first run of notes, starting about 20 seconds in; can you hear every note as distinctly as Bert Sullivan played them? NO chance! He's blurred them into a horrible, discordant screech. It sets my teeth on edge so much it makes me think of fingernails drawn across a blackboard.

I've seen posts on various forums from American brass players who've said that, in their opinion, "a baritone horn should sound almost like a euph." Really? WHY? If you want a euph sound, give it to your euphs to play! A baritone is supposed to sound as different to a euph as a trumpet does to a cornet, because it has a different job to do in a band - that's why baritones were invented, and why they have far more parallel bores than do euphs (just like trumpets do as compared to cornets!)

So has my focus on that 'personal' sound confused me or held me back? I don't believe it has, and none of my teachers have ever suggested that I ought to forget about that and focus on the nuts and bolts. And nor have any of them suggested I should try to "out-euph the euphs".

I can say, hand on heart, that if my MD told me he wanted me to sound more like the Childs than like Bert Sullivan, my response would be "Goodbye."

It might be worth pointing out that, if I was asked to switch to a different instrument in the band, the only one I'd really be happy to have a go at would be a tenor trombone - because of that lovely, meaty, gutsy sound! :good:

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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Kbiggs » Wed May 30, 2018 6:50 pm

BaritoneJack,

I neither agree nor disagree with the your characterizations of the performance and the tone quality in the above videos. I want to point out that the differences between Sullivan and Childs reflect a number of different things, primarily time period, tone, and aesthetics.

What is acceptable for tone and performance practice changes over time. Sullivan’s tone and interpretation are of an older time that valued adherence to the written page (no extended “screeches”), and a tone quality favoring the upper harmonics, which tend to produce a “livelier,” or “brighter” tone. Childs is more recent, where a more virtuosic and individual performance is expected, along with a darker, more “tuba-like” sound that emphasizes lower harmonics and a strong “core” with “fuzz” or “fluff” surrounding it. (Those are my terms; they may mean nothing to anyone else.)

I believe it is important to emphasize that both Sullivan and Childs are playing the piece with valid interpretations for their respective time periods. I also believe it is essential that we express preferences, recognizing that it is only a preference: De gustibus non disputandum est, Latin for, “In matters of taste, there is no dispute.” In French, it is expressed as Chacun a son gôut, or “To each his own [taste].”

This is NOT a namby-pamby way of saying that “everyone’s interpretation is correct.” No. Some interpretations are... well... misinformed about history, the style of the music, the characteristic sound of the instrument, etc. Yet both Sullivan’s and Child’s, I beleive, are valid interpretations. Some people have strong preferences for one over the other. Personally, I find it difficult to listen to modern interpretations of Baroque and Classical music (e.g., St. Martin in the Fields under Neville Marinner) after having listended extensivley and having played some on period/reproduction instruments. But that it is me, and my preference. Some can’t stand the historically informed performance movement. Yet, I deeply appreciate the carftsmanship and attention to detail required to play Baroque and Classical music in the moder style. It’s difficult music to play in any interpretation, regardless of personal preference.

This raises a broader and deeper issue in music that we pay little attetion to: music as an emotive and ostensive language. As a language, music commuicates feelings. Granted, the expression is primarily one way: the performer performs, the audience listens. However, whether we like or dislike the performance, we must admit that we are affected by it. And THAT is the purpose, if you will, of music: to reach people and affect them in ways that the spoken and written word cannot.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Kbiggs » Wed May 30, 2018 7:04 pm

Turning back to the practical question, “Is it ever too early to foster sound concept?” Again, I don’t think it’s ever too early. Provide the student with a broad range of tone qualities to choose from. Recordings are a great way to provide a model. Some people will naturally have a tone quality that is brighter, some darker. Forcing a student in to a box, expecially in the early and middle stages of development, breeds frustration in my view. Once they have the basics down—execution, rhythm, sustaining a sound, range, etc.—then work on refining the sound concept and tone that the student nauturally has, with some judicious guidance. And be aware that musicianship, along with sound concept, develops over time.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by BaritoneJack » Thu May 31, 2018 6:54 am

Kbiggs wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 6:50 pm
Sullivan’s tone and interpretation are of an older time that valued adherence to the written page (no extended “screeches”), and a tone quality favoring the upper harmonics, which tend to produce a “livelier,” or “brighter” tone.
It seems to me that you're suggesting that players of Sullivan's era played with blind obedience to the written score, with no attempt at interpretation at all. If so, I think that is nonsense - artists of all descriptions have been
putting their own interpretations on all forms of art since stone age people started drawing in caves.
Childs is more recent, where a more virtuosic and individual performance is expected . . .
. . . so players in the 1960s were not expected to be virtuosos, or stand-out individuals? Oh, come ON!
. . . along with a darker, more “tuba-like” sound that emphasizes lower harmonics and a strong “core” with “fuzz” or “fluff” surrounding it. (Those are my terms; they may mean nothing to anyone else.)
I know exactly what you mean, I think those terms describe the sound very effectively - and it's that fuzz and fluff which I so dislike.
As regards that last solo by David Childs, I think he goes way beyond 'interpretation'; that first run of notes is written as 'a run of notes', and not as a glissando which can only properly be done on a trombone. If a player decides to play that phrase on a valved instrument, and slur from one note to the next, I'd call that fair interpretation, and that's fine by me - but, even when the score calls for a slur, EVERY note should still be clearly heard, no matter how rapidly they are played, or how smoothly the slur from each note to the next is done.
But this, I feel, is topic drift - as I said at the start of my post, I was focussing on the OP's original point; whether or not a learner can start working towards a personal sound too early.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by BGuttman » Thu May 31, 2018 8:03 am

Beginners need to hear what acceptable sounds are. They should be encouraged to imitate these sounds. Once they understand how to get a good sound on a trombone they can begin to explore "personal". We don't want to encourage players to adopt an off-the-wall type of sound that in the future will limit their options as players.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by BaritoneJack » Thu May 31, 2018 8:26 am

Bruce - I'm not suggesting for one moment that any learner should be encouraged to "adopt an off-the-wall sound"; far from it. But I see no reason why a learner should not be encouraged, right from the start, to think about the sound they make, and to think about what they want to aim for. And if they feel drawn to creating a sound more like Cootie Williams:


instead of like John Parker:


or vice versa, what's wrong with that?
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by BGuttman » Thu May 31, 2018 9:18 am

I have no problem with a new player trying to sound like BOTH of them at different times (you probably can't sound like both at once).

Great artists (painters, sculptors) learn to copy the styles of the great masters before them before they branch out on their own. Van Gogh's "The Potato Eaters" bears little resemblance to his later works of art. Similarly, Picasso and Dali painted more mundane subjects before becoming what they were.

I'm more worried about the lazy kid who thinks that it's too much work to try to sound nice and it's easy to sound like a moose in heat and therefore that's his "sound" and so there! A personal sound that is not pretty and cannot blend with the other players in an ensemble will not be a valued musician. Better to weld a coin into the mouthpiece and let them pantomime the parade instead. (They actually did this to Jimmy Stewart when he played Glenn Miller. After 6 months of trombone lessons he still sounded awful and certainly not like Glenn Miller. So he pretended to play while somebody else dubbed the music.)
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Kbiggs » Thu May 31, 2018 9:27 pm

BaritoneJack wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 6:54 am
It seems to me that you're suggesting that players of Sullivan's era played with blind obedience to the written score, with no attempt at interpretation at all. If so, I think that is nonsense - artists of all descriptions have been
putting their own interpretations on all forms of art since stone age people started drawing in caves.
No, that’s not what I’m suggesting. I agree—it would be nonsense if I did!
BaritoneJack wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 6:54 am
. . . so players in the 1960s were not expected to be virtuosos, or stand-out individuals? Oh, come ON!
Of course that’s not what I’m suggesting. Clarke, Pryor, Mantia, etc., from a much earlier age were stand-up soloists. That occupation—bandsman soloist—may have ended, but the tradition continues.
BaritoneJack wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 6:54 am
As regards that last solo by David Childs, I think he goes way beyond 'interpretation'; that first run of notes is written as 'a run of notes', and not as a glissando which can only properly be done on a trombone. If a player decides to play that phrase on a valved instrument, and slur from one note to the next, I'd call that fair interpretation, and that's fine by me - but, even when the score calls for a slur, EVERY note should still be clearly heard, no matter how rapidly they are played, or how smoothly the slur from each note to the next is done.
But this, I feel, is topic drift - as I said at the start of my post, I was focussing on the OP's original point; whether or not a learner can start working towards a personal sound too early.
And that ^ is a matter of interpretation: “...he goes way beyond interpretation...,” “a glissando which can only properly be done on a trombone...,” “when the score calls for a slur, EVERY note should still be clearly heard...” are all interpretations. Who wrote that the “laws” of music must be this ^ way?

My point is quite different than what you suggest: what is an appropriate interpretation of, in this case a brass band euphonium solo, in the late 20th or early 21st century might be considered inappropriate in mid 20th century.

Remember the scene from Back to the Future where Michael J. Fox’s character Marty McFly starts some quasi-metal riffs in the middle of Johnny B. Goode? Completely inappropriate for the setting: a 1950’s high school dance. Now, imagine a metal band doing a remake of the tune... I know that’s a stretch, but go with me here... where said riffs would be completely within the style. (Perhaps even The Clash, or The Ramones...)

Another better example might be to listen to any modern violinist (Itzahk Perlman, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Hillary Hahn, Anne Akiko Meyers, etc.) play Bach’s Chaconne in d, and then listen to, say, Monica Huggett’s version. COMPLETELY different, yet each is perfectly appropriate, and in keeping with the aesthetic of the time. Do I have a preference? Yes, I do. Does that mean the other interpretations are inappropriate or wrong? No.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Kbiggs » Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:44 am

For comparison, here’s Joshua Bell:




Here’s Monica Huggett:




And here’s Marty McFly:

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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by baileyman » Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:43 pm

Scott Whitfield would tell you he had the sound of Tommy Dorsey and Urbie in his young head and thus never had a thought that high was "hard".

For me, having an excellent example in my head has been infallible guidance. Cannot be too early.
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by BaritoneJack » Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:49 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 9:18 am
I'm more worried about the lazy kid who thinks that it's too much work to try to sound nice and it's easy to sound like a moose in heat and therefore that's his "sound" and so there!
So would I be, Bruce - but, if you read my posts, that's not what I'm suggesting at all; nor, in my opinion, was the OP.

There's a world of difference between "I don't give a damn what I sound like" and "I want to sound like THAT!".
Redthunder
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Redthunder » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:04 am

baileyman wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:43 pm
Scott Whitfield would tell you he had the sound of Tommy Dorsey and Urbie in his young head and thus never had a thought that high was "hard".
This is something that while I understand from a musical perspective, but from a technical perspective, it just doesn't really add up. I too, had Tommy Dorsey's sound in my head from a young age, 15 or so, and high was never "easy" until I got my chops together, after years and years of struggling, and discovering that my embouchure form was poor, and no matter how much I practiced, I wasn't getting any better, in fact I was getting worse. I never had a problem with my concept of sound. The concept alone isn't enough if good form and technique aren't behind it. It's not magic, it's physics. This problem is all over brass teaching - the idea that product matters more than process.

To be clear, I'm not advocating for an approach that DOESN'T have great sound models available for students, but what I think matters as much or more, is high quality and thoughtful instruction from a good teacher, so that the student has a clearer path to actually achieving whatever sound concept they may want to pursue.
boneagain
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by boneagain » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:17 am

Redthunder wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:04 am
This is something that while I understand from a musical perspective, but from a technical perspective, it just doesn't really add up. I too, had Tommy Dorsey's sound in my head from a young age, 15 or so, and high was never "easy" until I got my chops together, after years and years of struggling, and discovering that my embouchure form was poor, and no matter how much I practiced, I wasn't getting any better, in fact I was getting worse. I never had a problem with my concept of sound. The concept alone isn't enough if good form and technique aren't behind it. It's not magic, it's physics. This problem is all over brass teaching - the idea that product matters more than process.

To be clear, I'm not advocating for an approach that DOESN'T have great sound models available for students, but what I think matters as much or more, is high quality and thoughtful instruction from a good teacher, so that the student has a clearer path to actually achieving whatever sound concept they may want to pursue.
This is exactly what I was getting at in my post above. Tommy Dorsey's "sound" is one thing.... his application of that sound to his styling is another. Dorsey had a pretty nice sound right down on middle "F". Emulating THAT from the get go gives a greast anchor for if the physics are working or need attention.

Emulating Dorsey's C's and D', on the other hand, is an open invitation for an immature physiology to adopt horrible habits and sustain injuries. In the 1970's many high school trumpet players wanted to sound just like Bill Chase, or Maynard Fergusson. They found ways to make that happen. I got an idea of how many BAD ways they found when I met up with them at the Navy School of Music. Quite a few ended up in ratings other than "musician" when their chops failed and they could not unlearn bad habits and relearn good fundamentals in time to pass the school. It was not a LARGE number, as the Navy was pretty good at winnowing that sort of thing out in auditions. It was a small, heartbreaking number.

The lead player in the first band I went to sea with emulated Urbie Green's sound. He did NOT emulate Urbie's RANGE. He was VERY purposeful about that. He basically said he could not get Urbie's SOUND in that range YET (but was methodically building up to it.)

Without a good sound concept, the physics don't matter. Without the physics and physiology the sound concept, no matter how good, is going to be limited to a very narrow range of pitch, tone, volume, timbre... you name it. I think a good sound concept comes first, but that is NOT the same as saying, "I want to play what Tommy Dorsey plays." A good sound concept is saying, "I want every note that I can play well and easily to sound like what Tommy Dorsey does on that same note."

I find it sobering to read Redthunder's post, then compare it to Donald Reinhardt's biography. I only know of TWO people I would go to for chops analysis I can count on, and a rational method I could learn to pass on to others, and both are Reinhardt students.

So, bottom line: NEVER too early to build a sound concept, but also NEVER too early to build solid sound production fundamentals.
Redthunder
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Redthunder » Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:46 am

boneagain wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:17 am
This is exactly what I was getting at in my post above. Tommy Dorsey's "sound" is one thing.... his application of that sound to his styling is another. Dorsey had a pretty nice sound right down on middle "F". Emulating THAT from the get go gives a greast anchor for if the physics are working or need attention.
This is a great point! Style and range aren't one in the same, which can be easy to forget for what we do as brass players.
In the 1970's many high school trumpet players wanted to sound just like Bill Chase, or Maynard Fergusson. They found ways to make that happen.
Another huge point - along those same lines I see so many teachers telling their students to "just do it", as if it's a lack of effort for why students struggle. Incredibly frustrating because there are countless individuals who truly love playing brass instruments but weren't lucky enough to have "natural" chops, and never had a teacher that knew how to help them work on developing the correct way for them. I was almost one of those people.

A good sound concept is saying, "I want every note that I can play well and easily to sound like what Tommy Dorsey does on that same note."
I agree with this definition completely.
I find it sobering to read Redthunder's post, then compare it to Donald Reinhardt's biography. I only know of TWO people I would go to for chops analysis I can count on, and a rational method I could learn to pass on to others, and both are Reinhardt students.

So, bottom line: NEVER too early to build a sound concept, but also NEVER too early to build solid sound production fundamentals.
Yup. I'm lucky to have found guys like Doug and Dave Wilken to help me work through my issues. I was at the point where I was considering quitting for a while because of how incredibly frustrated and stressed I was, no matter how hard I worked. And on top, every other teacher I asked about it told me that it would simply work itself out, or that I wasn't using enough air.
boneagain
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by boneagain » Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:40 pm

Ha! You got both names in one guess :)

Glad you DID find them!

Enjoy your sound concept...

AND solid fundamentals!
baileyman
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by baileyman » Sun Jun 03, 2018 3:15 pm

Great comments.

The importance of the sound concept for me has been guidance. Doing things that recreate the sound have been favorable. But then again, every so often some new way to do things shows up and the sound gets better but it's fairly different way than before.

I think you guys talking about teaching are glancing against this:

https://thelasttrombone.com/2017/08/22/ ... y-project/

It's Doug Yeo in an MRI. When I look at what's happening in this and recall the statements made by numerous pro players and teachers about how to do things, I cannot help but conclude that lot of people may be doing things right, fine, but they really have no idea what they are in fact doing, which pretty well blows up brass instruction.
Redthunder
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Redthunder » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:00 am

baileyman wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 3:15 pm
It's Doug Yeo in an MRI. When I look at what's happening in this and recall the statements made by numerous pro players and teachers about how to do things, I cannot help but conclude that lot of people may be doing things right, fine, but they really have no idea what they are in fact doing, which pretty well blows up brass instruction.
This hits the nail on the head. It seems as though most people who are out there right now that are highly successful trombonists, are those that what you might call more "natural players", and this shows in their teaching. These players never necessarily struggled with their playing. To many of them, there really is nothing more to it than just "tongue and blow", or "it's all air". And there's nothing wrong with keeping it that simple if you're finding success and are satisfied with your results. But for many students, this just simply is not even scratching the surface of the guidance they need to help them emulate that success. And often it's incredibly frustrating to see the students themselves struggle and yet still be blamed ("They just don't have it", "they don't listen to me", "They don't practice x,y, and z enough"). Or see tested and proven, scientifically-researched methods slammed as being bogus (Reinhardt's teaching, for example), simply because someone famous said something different.
blast
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Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by blast » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:07 am

I see nothing in those videos that comes as a surprise. On the contrary, they are quite comforting.
Teaching,on the other hand, is much more of a mind game than most people realise.

Chris
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